Turkey and fantasy football, what better pairing for Thanksgiving?
The NFL's Thanksgiving Day tradition celebrates its 92nd year Thursday, with three games. Among them are the annual Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys home games; the Lions will play their 71st straight Thanksgiving home game and 76th overall, while the Cowboys will play their 48th in a row.
As a fun way to celebrate, let's take a stroll down memory lane, examining some of the more memorable Thanksgiving happenings, whether related to football, food or fun.
Nov. 25, 1920: The NFL's (though it was then called the APFA, or American Professional Football Association) Thanksgiving Day tradition began with six games, five of which featured a shutout (including a dual shutout). One team, the Decatur Staleys, remains part of the league today, having been renamed the Chicago Bears in 1922.
Nov. 27, 1924: The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held, then called the "Macy's Christmas Parade."
Nov. 28, 1929: Chicago Cardinals fullback Ernie Nevers set an NFL single-game record with 40 points, thanks to six touchdowns and four extra points, effectively single-handedly defeating the Chicago Bears 40-6. Unfortunately, as game yardage totals were sketchy at best before 1950, we might never know how valuable Nevers' game was in ESPN fantasy scoring. It'd certainly have been worth at least 40 fantasy points, however, and no player or defense since 1960 has amassed at least that many on Thanksgiving.
1941 (exact date unknown): The first canned jellied cranberry sauce -- yes, the "log" -- was sold nationwide in stores.
Nov. 22, 1945: In the first NFL game on Thanksgiving since President Franklin D. Roosevelt switched the national Thanksgiving date to the fourth Thursday of Nov. -- it had previously been celebrated on the final Thursday in Nov. -- Jim Benton caught 10 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown to help the Cleveland Rams defeat the Detroit Lions 28-21. The 303 yards would be an NFL record for any game that would stand for 40 years. Benton's receiving prowess would've been worth 36 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring.
Nov. 14, 1951 (eight days before Thanksgiving): In the comic strip "Peanuts," Charlie Brown first attempted his infamous football kick. (Score that play a minus-1.)
Nov. 22, 1962: In one of the more stunning Thanksgiving upsets, the Detroit Lions defeated the then-undefeated Green Bay Packers 26-14 thanks in part to 11 sacks, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and a safety. The Lions' defense scored 33 fantasy points, a record for any D/ST on Thanksgiving. The Packers wouldn't lose another game all season.
Nov. 19, 1963 (nine days before Thanksgiving): After being presented with a live domestic turkey, as was the tradition since 1947, President John F. Kennedy spared his, becoming the first President on record to do so.
Nov. 24, 1966: The Dallas Cowboys, then in their seventh season of existence, hosted their first Thanksgiving Day game, a 26-14 win over the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys' 29-17-1 record is the best of any of the eight teams to have played at least 10 Thanksgiving games. In that 1966 game, though, it was a visiting player who led the game in fantasy scoring, as Browns running back Leroy Kelly managed 19 points.
Nov. 25, 1976: Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson set a then-NFL record for rushing yards in a single game with 273, en route to 39 fantasy points, which remains the most by any individual player on Thanksgiving since 1960. It would come in a losing effort, as Bills quarterback Gary Marangi attempted 29 passes but accumulated zero fantasy points in the process, resulting in a 27-14 defeat at the hands of the Lions.
Nov. 1995 (exact date unknown): The Tofurky company first began selling (what else but) Tofurky, a tofu-based meat alternative.
Nov. 26, 1998: In only his second national-TV game, Minnesota Vikings rookie Randy Moss caught three touchdown passes each of at least 51 yards, helping his team to a 46-36 victory against the Dallas Cowboys, one of 20 teams to pass on him in the 1998 NFL Draft. The result was a 36-point fantasy score for Moss, which is the fourth-best game by any rookie wide receiver since 1960. It set a career high that he went on to match twice, once in Week 10 of 2001 and again in Week 11 of 2007.
Nov. 25, 2002 (three days before Thanksgiving): In the second half of a blowout, a 38-17 Philadelphia Eagles win versus the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, announcer John Madden presented and ate a turducken, bringing increased attention to the Thanksgiving dish. PETA wasn't pleased.
Nov. 23, 2006: The Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs battled in the first prime time Thanksgiving game, which the Chiefs won 19-10. Chiefs running back Larry Johnson was the game's leading scorer, with 21 fantasy points. No other player or team defense scored more than 13.
Nov. 27, 2008: On one of the more eventful Thanksgivings from a fantasy perspective, in the 12:30 p.m. ET game, the Tennessee Titans routed the Detroit Lions 47-10 during what would ultimately be a 0-16 season for the Lions. Titans running backs Chris Johnson (24) and LenDale White (22) both reached the 20-fantasy-point plateau, an unusual feat for two running backs on the same team -- it has happened only 18 times since 2001 -- while Rob Bironas scored 21 fantasy points, which remains the best score by any kicker on Thanksgiving.
In the night game, Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook scored 37 fantasy points, tied for the second-best score by any player on Thanksgiving, en route to a 48-20 Eagles victory against the Arizona Cardinals.
Nov. 22, 2012: You'll remember it as the "butt fumble" game, in which New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez collided with the posterior of his own offensive lineman and fumbled, resulting in a New England Patriots touchdown and ultimately a 49-19 Patriots victory. Contrary to popular belief, this was not one of the worst individual quarterback performances in fantasy history; Sanchez's game was actually worth 12 points.